What Customers Say — And What They Really Mean

To successfully complete customers’ revision requests, it’s important to understand exactly what they are asking you to do.

We’ve all been there: you get a request from a customer, but you have to read between the lines to get at the real intent of the suggestion. Especially when customers and writers are trying to be nice to each other, it can be easy for the actual meaning of a revision request to get lost in all of the politeness.

So when customers say these things, what do they really mean?

“Can we build this into more of a story?”

You may have overused bullets, lists, or short sentences and paragraphs. The customer would like more of a narrative structure for the piece; consider rewriting the content to sound more like an essay rather than a blog post.

“Could you restructure the piece to help it flow?”

This can often mean the opposite of the prior statement — you may have written large blocks of text that make the piece difficult to get through. Consider breaking up the content with subheads, and be sure to check for appropriate transitions throughout.

“This is a great start, but could you elaborate?”

You’ve got the gist of the content that the customer is looking for, but you haven’t provided enough detail and depth. Build upon the existing points with more examples, perhaps adding additional sources and statistics if they might be relevant. If you’ve already hit the target word count, consider whether any parts of the piece could be removed to give you more room to work with.

“Assume the audience is already knowledgeable in this topic.”

Your tone might not be authoritative or informative enough, or your research and content might be too high-level for the intended audience. Make sure your language reflects the familiarity readers would have with the topic, and do additional research as needed to make sure you can incorporate a sufficient level of detail.

“This reads a little too similarly to the content above.”

You may be repeating language or concepts, so check to see whether you’ve mentioned the same idea or point multiple times. If you need more text to hit the target word count, do additional research and identify other salient arguments that could be made.

“This is an interesting fact, but we’re not quite sure where it comes from.”

You’ve got the right content, but you need to cite your sources. Be sure to pay attention to whether the customer wants sources linked or referenced separately and whether there are any specific citation requirements.

“The conclusion should encourage to the customer to do ____.”

You need to include a clear call to action that encourages the reader to produce the response the customer is requesting. Double-check if the customer wants her business mentioned or is looking for something more general.

Interpreting a customer’s revision requests is often more art than science, but with practice, you can avoid the key intent getting lost in translation. And if you’re working on a job for Scripted, be sure to take advantage of our Messaging feature — it’s the best way to get clarification on guidelines before you write a single word.